Does employee diversity lead to better organizational performance? In a recent article (Avery et al., 2012), researchers argue that it can, but it’s not quite that simple. What is important isn’t so much the diversity, but the employees’ racioethnic representativeness of the customer base. In this study, the authors looked at the racioethnic representativeness and productivity of 739 stores. They found that as representativeness increased, so did productivity. In addition, the authors found that productivity increased because representativeness led to customer satisfaction, which in turn led to productivity. This effect was largest for stores that had a higher percentage of minority customers.
The findings from this study indicate that it’s helpful for the racioethnicity of your personnel to be representative of your customer base. However, for legal reasons, it is important not to hire or promote people based on their race. It would be a good idea to assess the representativeness of your personnel, partly to determine if there is discrimination occurring, and partly because your company could be sending the wrong message to customers if your personnel are not representative.
Avery, D. R., McKay, P. F., Tonidandel, S., Volpone, S. D., & Morris, M. A. (2012). Is there method to the madness? Examining how racioethnic matching influences retail store productivity Personnel Psychology, 65, 167-199.